Published On: Fri, Dec 11th, 2009

Dances forms of India

The dances of India can be classified into the following three categories :

  1. Main Styles of Classical Dance

  2. Other Classical Dances

  3. Folk and Tribal Dances.

MAIN STYLES OF CLASSICAL DANCE

Bharatanatyam

The earliest exponents of Bharatanatyam were the devadasis (temple dancers) in south India for worship. It came to be patronized by the Cholas, the Pandyas, Nayakas, Vijayanagar rulers and the Marathas. The technique of Bharatanatyam consists of 64 principles of coordinated hand, foot, face and body movements which are performed to the accompaniment of dance syllables, popularly known as bols.

Its format consists of Alarippu (invocation), Jathi Swaram (note combinations), Shabdam (notes and lyrics), Varnam (a combination of pure dance and abhinaya), lighter items like Padams and Javalis (all erotic) and finally the Thillana (again pure dance).

Famous Exponents

Bala Saraswathi, Shanta Rao, Mrinalini Sarabahai, Yamini Krishnamurthy, Kamala, Vijayantimala, Sonal Man Singh, Samyukta Panigrahi and Rukhmini Devi.

Kathak

The word Kathak is derived from Katha which means story. It is a dance-drama in which actors took part.

It is confined mostly to Northern India—Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, the Punjab and Madhya Pradesh. The main centres are Lucknow, Varanasi, Jaipur and Delhi.

The characteristic features of the Kathak dance are emphasis on foot work, the swift swirl or chakor of the body followed by its sudden stillness. The execution of foot work is with in a time cycle.

The Kathak dance goes through a regular format mostly concentrating on rhythm, variously called tatkar, paltas, thoras, amad and parans.

Famous Exponents

Sitara Devi, Birju Maharaj, Gopi Krishna, Binda Din Maharaj, Damayanti Joshi, Kalkadin, Aachan Maharaj and Uma Sharma.


Kathakali

It combines music, poetry, mime and drama. This dance-drama is usually performed in the open and usually lasts the whole night. The themes are taken from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and Hindu mythology. The costumes show a great variety of colour. The musical instruments are quite simple, viz., drums and cymbals. The actors put on masks of various types to represent deities or the demons.

Famous Exponents

Kunju Kurup, Koppan Nair, Ragini Devi, Shanta Rao, Mrinalini Sarabhai, Kanak Pele, Rita Ganguly, Krishnan Nair, Gopinathan and Karunakaren Nair.

Manipuri

This dance belongs to the state of Manipur in north-east India.

Manipuri is purely a religious dance which is used to invoke divine blessing. Originally only Shiva and Parvati were propitiated but later on Krishna and Radha too were included.

Famous Exponents

Guru Bipin Sinha, Charu Mathur, Sadhana Bose, Jhaveri sisters and T. Nadia Singh.

Other Classical Dances

  • Odissi : It is a classical dance of Orissa. The earliest evidence of the dance are found in the caves of Udaigiri and Khandagiri. Odissi was greatly influenced by Vaisnavism and the Bhakti Cult.

    Odissi is built on the principle that the human body is meant to be employed in deflection. The main emphasis is on the statuesque poses of the dancer.

    The format consists of Bhumi Prana, Batu, Pallavi and lighter items like the Ashtapadi ending in moksha approximating to the Thillana of the south.

  • Famous Exponents : Mohan Mahapatra, Kelucharan Mahapatra, Pankaj Charan Das, Hare Krishna Behra, Mayadhar Pant, Madhvi Mudgal, Sharon Lowen (USA) and Myrta Bravie (Argentina).

  • Kuchipudi : Kuchipudi is a dance-drama of Andhra Pradesh. It is the corresponding style of the Bhagvatamala Natak of Tamil Nadu, except the emphasis is on animat (s derived from Natya Shastra.

    It closely resembles Bharatanatyam. However, its movements are much faster and style is freer.

  • Famous Exponents : Yamini Krishnamurthy, Swapnasundari, Shobha Naidu Raja and Radha Reddy, Vempati Stayam and Vedanatam Stayam.

  • Mohiniattam : It is a classical dance of Kerala. In format, this is similar to Bharatanatyam. It is essentially a solo dance.

    The first reference to Mohiniattam is found in Vyavaharamala, composed by Mazhamangalam Narayanan Nambudiri, assigned to the 16th century AD.

  • Famous Exponents : Vyjayanthimala, Shanta Rao, Roshan Vajifadar, Bharti Shivaji, Kanak Pele and Hema malini.

Folk and Tribal Dances

States

Dances

Maharashtra Kathakeertan, Lezim, Dandaniya, Tamasha, Gafa, Dahikala, Lovani, Mauni, Dasavatar or Bohada.
Karnataka Huttari, Suggi Kunitha, Yakshagana.
Kerala Kaikottikali, Kaliyattam, Tappatikkali.
Tamil Nadu Kolattam, Pinnal Kolattam, Kummi, Kavadi, Karagam.
Andhra Pradesh Ghanta Mardala, Veedhi Natakam, Burrakatha.
Orissa Aaya, Jadoor, Mudari, Sanchar, Chadya Dandanata, Chhau
West Bengal Kathi, Chhau, Baul, Kirtan, Jatra, Lama.
Assam Bihu, Kali Gopal, Khel Gopal, Rakhal, Jhakura, Maha Ras.
Punjab Giddha (women), Bhangra (man) Ghamaan, Kikli.
Jammu & Kashmir Rauf, Hikat.
Himachal Pradesh Jhora, Jhali, Dangi, Mahathu, Jadda, Jhainti, Chharba.
Haryana Ghodinaach, Saomg, Phag dance, Daph, Loor, Gugga.
Gujarat Garba, Dandiya Ras, Lasya, Bhavai.
Rajasthan Jindad, Ghapaal, Kathputli, Dhela, Maru, Chakri, Gangore, Terahtaal, Khayal,  Jhuma.
Bihar Jatra, Karma, Kathaputli, Bakho, Jhijhiya, Samochakwa, Natna.
Uttar Pradesh Nautanki, Jhora, Chappeli, Raslila, Kajjri.
Nagaland Khaiva, Nooralim, Chong, Lim, Kuminaga, Rengma Chong.
Manipur Basant Ras, Nat Ras, Maha Ras, Ki Talam, Vyaangta.
Jharkhand Jhau, Ghumkudia, Karma, Sarhool, Madhi, Jadoor.
Uttranchal Kazri, Karan.

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